Georgia WAND Members Advocate for Safe, Just Nuclear Waste Storage at Historic Hearing

Charlotte – Georgia WAND staff and members will join concerned residents from across the Southeast in Charlotte today to raise concerns about the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s plan for handling the country’s nuclear waste stockpile.

Environmental and public interest groups will rally at 5 p.m. outside the Charlotte Hilton University Place, 8629 J.M. Keynes Drive, before heading inside to testify at the hearing at 7 p.m. The NRC is holding 12 meetings across the country to receive comments on their Waste Confidence Proposed Rule and a Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement on nuclear waste.This is first time the public has had the opportunity to officially weigh on how to safely store the roughly 75,000 tons of commercial nuclear power waste in the United States.

“Georgia is ground zero for nuclear expansion in the US and our residents have a lot at stake in the NRC’s new waste policy,” Becky Rafter, Georgia Women’s Action for New Directions Executive Director said. “We are disappointed that the NRC declined our request for a waste hearing in Atlanta, but will not let that stop us from expressing our concerns today.”

Georgia WAND has raised several concerns with the NRC’s Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement on nuclear waste including environmental injustice surrounding temporary waste storage, threats to public health, and technical failures of the document pertaining to risks posed by climate change and the high chance of fires at spent fuel pools.

Georgia WAND advocates for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to stop using the Waste Confidence Policy to license new reactors. Current fuel should be removed from high risk fuel pools as soon as possible and stored in dry cask, hardened onsite storage, which eliminates risky nuclear waste transport as well as reduces safety and security risks from fires, natural disasters and attacks on the site.

“The only thing that we can be confident about is that radioactive nuclear waste is a threat to public health and will remain that way for thousands of years,” Rafter said. “There is no way to make nuclear waste completely safe, but we can reduce risks of accidents by removing high level spent nuclear fuel from reactors sooner rather than later and keeping it as close to the reactor site as possible through hardened storage. This will eliminate many of the risks of taking radioactive waste onto our roads, rails and waterways as well as reduce the amount of land and the number of communities burdened by waste storage.”